ACTION

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie
CRITIC'S CHOICE

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Too few movies make marriage look like fun. The stylish, high-spirited Mr. & Mrs. Smith is out to change that. Its husband and wife (Pitt and Jolie) crack wise and swap tender endearments—even while shooting at each other.

"You still alive, baby?" she purrs after attempting to blast him.

"Your aim is as bad as your cooking, sweetheart," he chides. And then returns fire.

Smith glides pleasingly along on cleverness and the considerable star power of its leads, a preternaturally gorgeous duo. The plot is simultaneously saltine thin and unnecessarily complicated: Unbeknownst to each other, John and Jane Smith work as paid killers. They live a staid suburban life, each pretending to hold down a normal job while covertly plying their trade. It is only when both are assigned to take out an identical target that they realize the other's true identity and start exchanging firepower.

Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) maintains a tone of sexy bonhomie, though the film's pacing lags at times. The onscreen chemistry between Pitt and Jolie is potent and their performances appealing. These two are Nick and Nora Charles for a more cynical age. (PG-13)

ACTION

Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall

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Thanks to syndication, the 1955-56 comedy series upon which this ramshackle movie is based ran forever on TV, turning Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden character and Art Carney's Ed Norton into television immortals. The best that can be said about this film version is that it lasts a mere 90 minutes.

This new Honeymooners plays like a sitcom that is headed for a quick cancellation; the jokes are stale, the characters not particularly engaging. Bus driver Ralph (Cedric) and sewer worker Ed (Epps) must raise $20,000 in two weeks to buy a duplex coveted by their wives (Union as Ralph's Alice, Hall as Ed's Trixie). Thus, the two take up various harebrained schemes to raise money. While these guys pointlessly spin their wheels, the film's only real laughs come from John Leguizamo. He plays a lowlife. How low? "I don't want to marry her for her money," he says of his older girlfriend, "but I don't know any other way to get it." (PG-13)

COMEDY

Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Stéphane Freiss

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If one knew then what one knows now, would anyone ever take a risk, especially at love? That's the question that comes to mind watching this rueful, elegant film by accom-plished French director-cowriter Francois Ozon (Swimming Pool) as it tracks, in reverse, the dissolution of a marriage. Viewers first glimpse Marion (Bruni-Tedeschi) and Gilles (Freiss) as their divorce is finalized and they head to a hotel for one last, forlorn sexual coupling. Four subsequent segments trace key moments in their relationship back to a first meeting at a resort. (Five chapters, two people-hence the title.)

The structure is similar to that used by Harold Pinter in his 1978 play Betrayal, and the results are equally powerful. These characters wound each other and themselves, never realizing until too late the damaging groundwork they've laid. Bruni-Tedeschi gives a performance so heartbreakingly pure, it hangs there shimmering long after the movie has ended. (R)

DRAMA

Cayden Boyd, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Dooley, David Arquette, Kristin Davis, George Lopez

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For those still too young to watch the violent cinematic exploits of Batman and other caped crusaders (despite their persistent pleading), there's Sharkboy (Lautner) and Lavagirl (Dooley). These two pint-size superheroes join forces with Max, a dorky 10-year-old (Boyd), to save Planet Drool, in 3-D no less. Director Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids), who based his script on stories dreamed up by his own 8-year-old son, Racer Max, has made a lively adventure full of humor, minor scares and heaps of imagination. Special bonus: Kids will love to play with the old-school cardboard 3-D glasses afterward. (PG)

Cinderella Man

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Russell Crowe is superb in a moving portrait of real-life boxer James J. Braddock, who went from collecting welfare to fighting for the heavyweight crown during the Great Depression. With Renée Zellweger and Paul Giamatti. Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind) directed. (PG-13)

High Tension

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Awful French slasher movie, watchable only because of intriguingly androgynous star Cécile de France, who goes several blood-splattering rounds with a killer bogeyman. It's like Halloween with Joan of Arc. In French and (dubbed) English. (R)

Crash

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Best movie so far this year. An ensemble drama about race relations in L.A., it features an all-star cast including Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon. (R)

CAYDEN AND JEENNA BOYD

AGE: Cayden is 11; sister Jenna is 12 HOMETOWN: Keller, Texas ONSCREEN: Jenna stars in the teen drama The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Cayden in family flick The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D

A STAR (OR TWO) IS BORN: The Boyds began modeling as toddlers. Since then, Jenna has shared the screen with Benicio DelToro in The Hunted and Cate Blanchett in The Missing. Clint Eastwood directed Cayden in Mystic River. "My dad told me to ask Clint, 'You really are dirty, aren't you, Harry?' " recalls Cayden. "So I said it to him, and he makes a face and says, The dirtiest.' "

SIBLING RIVALRY: The pair, who live in Burbank with dad Mike, a pilot, and mom Debbie, a homemaker, are a typical brother and sister. "I like to think of ways to annoy her," says Cayden. That won't distract Jenna, an avid figure skater: "My goal is to get an Olympic gold medal," she says, "and an Academy Award."

  • Contributors:
  • Leah Rozen,
  • Kwala Mandel.